A letter from Thomas Goetz in Japan
An interview with the Reverend Ai Akers, a newcomer to Sapporo from Nagasaki, where she and her husband pastored a church. Now in Sapporo, they will continue their ministry.
Tom Goetz: Good afternoon. It is good to be here today and to be able to share this time with you.
Ai Akers: Thank you. As you know, my name is Ai Akers. My husband Nick and I moved to Sapporo six months ago, and we are very happy to be here.
T: You are new to Sapporo. Where did you move from and what did you do?
A: When I served in a small church in Nagasaki, Nick and I met a man named Mr. Kubo there.
T: What was unique about him?
A: Mr. Kubo was in his late forties, early fifties, and worked for a company mostly carrying heavy metal beams, but he was in an accident, injuring both of his feet, and was not able to work after that.
T: How terrible. How did that change his life?
A: He loved working hard and was always encouraging other people around him. He grew up in Nagasaki in a Catholic family. His family's grave is shaped like a cross, and all the family members' Catholic names are written on it. He always attended Wednesday night prayer meetings and Sunday worship. He had had some very difficult issues in his life, but one evening, he shared his favorite Bible verse with us. It was from the book of Isaiah. The scripture says these words, "I will be your God throughout your life time until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you." Isaiah 46:4.
T: So, the accident made him stronger in his faith.
A: Yes. Hearing these words from Mr. Kubo's mouth, it made me believe even stronger that God is always sustaining us and carrying us. Mr. Kubo was suffering from financial issues, physical issues, and many other issues. In the eight years we spent with him, we prayed with him many times, and we went and asked different professionals to work with his issues. Although each problem was tough, God always carried Mr. Kubo in his hands. God always protected Mr. Kubo with his love and care for him. We were fortunate to be in the front seat with him in his life journey.
T: Isaiah 46:4 was Mr. Kubo's favorite Bible verse. If you could think of a passage from the Bible that matches up with your thoughts about Mr. Kubo, what would that be?
A: In the Bible, it says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."
T: Ecclesiastes 3:11?
A: Yes it is. It is very difficult for us to think about our current situation to see if it is all beautiful. The Bible helps us to see things from God's perspective. We can never see everything just as God sees it, but God gave us a sense of eternity even in our lives on earth. Let us stop and remember where we were just five years ago, and what we were doing.
T: So, let's get back to your time in Nagasaki. A lot of people think that churches in Japan are few and have a daily struggle to survive, that growth is really hard. Yet you talk about beauty. Could you explain a bit more?
A: I myself was in Nagasaki, serving as a pastor for a church. It was a very busy time, getting ready to become independent from our mother church.
T: So, your church was already growing! Wow! And now you are here in Sapporo. Welcome to Sapporo and I hope that you and your husband continue to reach out and meet the many "Mr. Kubos" who live here.
A: We certainly hope so.
T: Last word?
A: God gives us hope so that we may live with strength. When we have hope for the future, we can keep trying and we can keep going with God's help. When we know that someone expects us to be better, we can keep going another mile. God loves us, and he expects us to keep on trying towards higher ground today. Maybe it is hard for us to see what we can do in our future, but God can see better than we can what we are capable of doing. Let us trust God, who gives us hope and joy each day of our lives.
T: Thank you once again.
A: You are welcome.
In my letters for 2013, I have highlighted Japanese Christian converts who grew up in Japan, but, after time and a half, felt[MS1] that there was something more to life. That something more is nothing less than the love of God in Christ, a love that cannot be found in any other way. While the numbers of Christians in Japan are small, for God, anything is possible. Please pray for the Christians here, that they may be willing instruments of the Spirit to introduce others to Christ. Please support our missionaries in Japan and all around the world in prayer and financially so that their work may come to fruition.